Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Weather Tips

Winter may have taken a while to arrive, but we couldn't avoid it forever. Now that it's here, there are a few things we should do to keep our pets safe during the colder months. Here are some tips that may help:

1. Flea and Tick Medication. A lot of people do not apply flea and tick medication in the winter in order to control costs. Unfortunately, it takes a deep freeze for three to four days in a row in order to kill off all the fleas and ticks. Since we live in an area with relatively mild winters, it's rare for us to have these conditions; therefore it is rare that fleas and ticks are ever fully killed off.

2. Thin Ice! Cape Cod has a lot of temperature fluctuations in the winter, lakes, ponds, and cranberry bogs may appear more frozen than they are.

3. Rock Salt. Most stores sell pet friendly ice melt now, but you can't guarantee that everywhere your pet goes it will be used. Not only can rock salt be irritating to your dog or cat's paws, but they may lick the rock salt off their paws, causing them to ingest it and become sick.

4. Keep your Cat Indoors. At VACC, we recommend keeping your cat indoors year round, but especially during the winter months. It is easier for them to become lost in the snow, and they may be left outside overnight.

5. Check Under the Hood. Before you start your car, tap on the hood to make sure no animals have crawled up there overnight. Cats will often climb inside the hood of a car seeking to get warm.

6. Keep your Dog on a Leash. More dogs are lost during the winter than any other time of year. Dogs can easily get lost and lose their scent in a snowstorm. Also, your dog or cat may not be visible to snow plows or other vehicles in the snow.

7. Frostbite. Despite their warm furry coats, dogs and cats are still susceptible to frostbite. Frostbite usually affects the tail, toes, tips of ears, and the scrotum. Frostbitten tissue may initially appear pale or gray, as well as hard and cold; as the area thaws it may turn red. Thawing is extremely painful, and if the tissue is too damaged it may slough off.

8. Antifreeze. Most people are aware of the dangers of antifreeze, but sometimes it can be difficult to prevent our pets from ingesting it by accident. You may be able to make sure your garage or driveway is free of antifreeze, but you can't guarantee that anyone else's will. Also, any car driving up and down your road may have a leak as well. It is important to be vigilant in the areas you can not control.

9. Dress Warmly. It may seem silly, but short haired dogs, older dogs, and immune compromised dogs often get cold in the wintertime. Dressing them in a coat or sweater will help keep them warm.

10. Wear Reflective Gear. Winter also means shorter hours of daylight along with snowstorms and lower visibility.

We hope these tips are helpful, and we hope you have a safe, comfortable, and easy winter season. Hang in there, only six weeks until spring!!